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BC should allow online recreational cannabis sales to protect consumers and staff

British Columbians should be allowed the same socially distant transaction options as other provinces

Despite reports of “click-and-collect” services coming to B.C. retail, a recent provincial policy directive still requires customers to go in-store to pay for and pick up their weed.

This new directive falls short of online sales and delivery options available in provinces including Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Providing these options would allow B.C. residents, who currently face the country’s highest number of COVID-19 infections, to reduce non-essential physical transactions that have the potential to spread the disease.

Tuesday afternoon’s update from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry showed B.C. pulling ahead of Ontario for the first time with a total of 617 confirmed cases, compared to Ontario’s 572. For reference, the population of Ontario is nearly three times that of B.C.

International advocacy group the Consumer Choice Center, who recently called for all provinces to legalize same-day delivery, said such policies would have the added benefit of reducing illicit sales.

Currently, B.C.’s provincial wholesaler holds a monopoly on online recreational cannabis sales. “BC Cannabis Stores: the only place to shop non-medical cannabis online in BC,” reads a slogan on the homepage of its website.

Late Friday, British Columbia’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) authorized private cannabis retailers to offer non-medical cannabis product reservations online or by phone.

However, the guidance says that reserved products must be paid for and picked up in store.

The move comes after multiple calls from B.C. retailers for the province to allow for cannabis delivery and “click-and-collect” services that are offered in other Canadian provinces.

“It’s hard for us when we don’t have an option,” Muse Cannabis manager Frida Hallgren told Mugglehead in an interview last week. “At times like this it would have been very useful to have a delivery system.”

Unclear how product reservations support social distancing

The term click-and-collect is used to describe retail services where customers buy a product online and then come to collect it, either in-store or at the curbside.

The demand for brick-and-mortar alternatives has expanded rapidly as citizens have been asked, and now ordered, to practice social distancing measures in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

With its new expanded emergency powers, the City of Vancouver can now fine businesses up to $50,000 and individuals $1,000 for violating social distancing guidelines.

Muse Cannabis Granville Street Vancouver
Unlike other major provinces, B.C. consumers still need to pay for their weed in-store. Photo by Nick Laba

It’s unclear how the LCRB’s new policy would work to decrease potentially risky social interactions if customers have to meet staff in-store to buy cannabis products.

As its explanation, the branch said no policy direction on non-medical cannabis product reservations was provided previously.

“This policy change now allows licensees to offer reservations of non-medical cannabis products available in their store to customers via their website or by telephone,” it said. “Existing requirements for licensee websites remain and licensees are prohibited from selling non-medical cannabis products online or by telephone. However, licensees may continue online sales of cannabis accessories and gift cards.”

Mugglehead reached out to the B.C. Attorney General’s office on Monday morning about why online sales are not being allowed, and is waiting for comment.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Activist campaign against synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and GMOs a pending ‘disaster’ for our food supply

arming looks mighty easy when your plough is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.’ Those were the prescient words of US president Dwight Eisenhower. Today, debate about farming has been colonized by environmental activists with little regard for the realities of farming.

In January, the 11th Oxford Real Farming Conference was held just a few days after the Oxford Farming Conference. Ironically, while the Oxford Farming Conference features actual professionals from the farming, biotech and retail sectors, the Real Farming Conference objects to this approach. The ‘Real’ conference was established to fight against ‘industrial’ agriculture. Instead of ‘big business’, it hosts farmers alongside eco-alarmists and the likes of Extinction Rebellion. Extinction Rebellion also protested outside the regular Oxford Farming Conference, dressed in bright red, accusing the attendees of killing the planet.

Many eco-warriors take issue with any farming that is non-organic and, in particular, with the use of pesticides and herbicides. Farmers are using herbicides not to upset activists but in an effort to increase crop yields. These products are necessary and safe. They have been approved by medical agencies, food-safety authorities and governments around the globe.

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What’s more, the kind of organic farming favored by environmentalists is actually bad for the environment. As Chris Bullivant explains on CapX, organic farming produces more greenhouse gases than conventional farming – up to 58 per cent more, in fact.

Nevertheless, the Real Farming Conference promoted an ‘organic transition’ away from the use of copper, plastics and ‘other contentious inputs’. Instead of industrial farming, the conference promotes ‘agroecology’ and ‘peasant farming’ – a back-to-basics approach without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, GMOs and herbicides.

An agroecological approach would be a disaster for our food supply. Agroecology researchers themselves admit that this form of agriculture would decrease agricultural production by 35 per cent. But no matter. The activists’ goal is the complete annihilation of conventional intensive farming at any cost.

Modern intensive farming techniques have successfully rid most of our farmland of invasive species and other pests. In the face of this obvious success, the opponents of modern farming have had to stoop to questionable science.At an agroecology conference in Kenya last June, one of the featured speakers was conspiracy theorist Tyrone Hayes. His research gave rise to the conspiracy-monger Alex Jones’s infamous claim that atrazine, a widely used herbicide, ‘turns frogs gay’.

Also promoted as a top-tier speaker was Gilles-Eric Séralini, a French biologist and science correspondent for Le Monde (though he was, in the end, a no-show). Séralini is one of the world’s best-known opponents of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A major anti-GMO study he authored in 2012 has since been retracted and debunked by four government-funded studies (three by the EU and one by France). The scandal became known as the ‘Seralini Affair’. The case against GMOs is based on pseudoscience, but this does not trouble the agroecology movement.

The unfortunate truth is that these agroecology activists are influential. For instance, the head of the UK Soil Association, Gareth Morgan, is regularly quoted in national newspapers. He is agitating for a ban on all pesticides and fertilizers and wants the government to endorse agroecology. Parliament already has an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology. In 2018, Michael Gove, when he was environment secretary, spoke at the Real Farming Conference.

Farming and our food supply are far too important to be sacrificed to the pet projects of conspiracy theorists and radical environmentalists.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Outside the EU, the UK should set its sights on agricultural innovation

Love or hate it, Brexit offers many opportunities for regulatory overhaul. The recently released UK budget gets rid of the tampon tax, a financial instrument long criticised by the feminist movement (and rightfully so). Another tool of regulation which the European Union has long imposed on Britain should now also be axed: the 2001 directive on genetically modified foods. Especially with the current turbulence looming over financial markets, the UK has an obligation to its citizens to allow for better and cheaper food in the shops. New agricultural technologies can make this a reality.

The directive made genetic engineering for the purpose of agriculture practically illegal. Apart from a set of imports and a very select amount of crops, genetic engineering is itself illegal in the EU. Indeed, the language of the legislation is revealing: by calling these foods “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs) – which is not a scientific description because genetic engineering describes the process, not the end product – the EU showed that its motivations were political, not scientific. Key features stand out in the legislation, for instance in this definition:

“genetically modified organism (GMO)” means an organism, with the exception of human beings, in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination;”

The informed reader might know that crop varieties carrying gene mutations through radiation and chemical treatment would fall under this definition, but they are actually exempt in the same directive. It occurred to the European Union that radioactively treated foods that have existed since the 1950s would be outlawed, and so an exemption was made for this form of mutagenesis. While chemical treatments and radiation are imprecise, newer breeding technologies are not.

And this is where the UK can have an advantage over the sclerotic regulation in the EU. Gene editing, also known as “new breeding technologies (NBT)”, is a newer form of genetic engineering, in which modern technologies (such as gene scissors) are used to edit existing DNA.

Gene editing allows us to either remove, silence or insert genes from within species. This is in contrast to the often criticised transgenesis in which genes of one species are inserted into the DNA of another (hence the slur “Frankenfood”). Gene editing has the potential to make enormous advances for human health and agriculture, through a faster mechanism of editing out undesired genomes. It can be so precise in its genetic engineering, that breeding techniques from the last century appear (and are) random.

We are just at the beginning of discovering precision gene editing but even in its infant stage, it is already the most precise way of eliminating unwanted genes in crops. One example is breeding gluten-free wheat, a blessing for everyone suffering from celiac disease.

In a press release by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) earlier this month, scientists explain that the current EU rules on genetically modified organisms (GMO) are not fit for purpose anymore. In a court ruling in 2018, the European court of justice had decided that new breeding technologies should be considered as GMOs, and would, therefore, be outlawed in the EU. 

The EASAC explains that current GMO classifications lack a scientific foundation. Robin Fears, head of the EASAC’s biosciences programme explains:

“A lot has happened since the first regulations have been adopted almost 20 years ago. Reform must strengthen the use of scientific evidence and tackle future uncertainties. In parallel, we need a continued and transparent discussion of the critical, including ethical, issues to build trust between scientists and the public.”

As scientists are battling the European Union to change legislation – which is provenly lengthy and hijacked by anti-science campaigners such as Greenpeace – the UK has a unique opportunity to bypass this challenge and scrap the 2001 directive altogether. Westminster could create its own set of rules, allowing for a fast-tracked authorisation process on a case-by-case basis, as opposed to sweeping and unscientific generalisations by Brussels.

In a time of economic uncertainty, genetic engineering gives us the opportunity to make food safer, cheaper and more affordable. Evidence shows that genome editing has benefits for nutrition and productive, low-pesticide and resource-conserving agriculture. If the government seeks to combine its efforts for improved purchase power, while reducing its CO2 emissions and cutting (now necessary) crop protection tools, then it should look to cut red tape on vital agricultural technology.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

En telcolobby hekelt netneutraliteit in coronatijd

Europees afknijpverzoek aan Netflix is ‘onnodig, en de schuld van netneutraliteit’.

“De EU dwingt het internet om langzamer te zijn, dankzij netneutraliteit”, luidt de boodschap van het Consumer Choice Center. Het beperken van de snelheid en kwaliteit van online-diensten zoals Netflix zou niet alleen onnodig zijn, maar ook schadelijk voor alle Europese consumenten die nu thuiszitten en thuiswerken. Aldus deze Amerikaanse lobbygroep die de belangen behartigt van onder meer sigarettenfabrikanten en telecomaanbieders.

Het verzoek van Eurocommissaris Thierry Breton aan Netflix om videokwaliteit terug te schroeven, wordt door het Consumer Choice Center geïnterpreteerd als EU-bevel wat onnodig en schadelijk is. Breton heeft afgelopen week in een tweet laten weten dat hij Netflix-CEO Reed Hastings heeft verzocht om naar standaardresolutie ‘terug te schakelen’ wanneer HD-video niet echt nodig is. Dit uit voorzorg om mogelijke overbelasting te voorkomen door thuiswerken en videostreamen bij zelf-quarantine en lockdowns in EU-landen.

Lobbygroep Consumer Choice Center stelt in een rondgemaild persbericht vandaag dat de Eurocommissaris voor de interne markt digitale streamingdiensten en dienstverleners heeft gevraag om hun bandbreedte te beperken tijdens de COVID-19 crisis. “Dit bevel is gegeven ondanks bewijs dat breedbandcapaciteit nog lang niet aan zijn grenzen zit”, aldus de in Brussel gevestigde organisatie. Bij deze stellingname over bandbreedtegrenzen verwijst het lobbycentrum naar een artikel in Engadget over Bretons tweet.

‘Geen problemen in UK, India en China’

Daarin stellen Vodafone UK en Telecom Italia dat er toenemend internetverkeer met andere pieken in de netwerkbelasting zijn, maar geen berichten van wijdverbreide uitval. Ook een tweet van de Britse security-expert Kevin Beaumont over bandbreedtebelasting in Manchester wordt aangehaald door Engadget, wat weer wordt aangehaald door het Consumer Choice Center. De lobbygroep voor onder meer de tabaks- en telecomindustrie linkt in zijn protesterende persbericht tegen het afknijpverzoek van de EU ook naar een artikel in The Indian Express.

Daarin worden meetresultaten van snelheidsmeetdienst Ookla belicht, voor vaste en mobiele breedbandverbindingen in bepaalde Aziatische landen. Daaronder China, waar het nieuwe coronavirus voor het eerst is losgebarsten, en India, Japan en Maleisië. In die landen was er vooralsnog geen sprake van grote stijgingen in het gebruik van bandbreedte sinds het uitbreken van COVID-19. “Zelfs in Italië, dat al weken in lockdown verkeert, zijn er geen meldingen van wijdverbreide storingen”, vervolgt het Consumer Choice Center zijn boodschap.

Marktwerking en netneutraliteit

Volgens topman Luca Bertoletti geven alle grote telecomproviders in Europa aan dat ze stabiele, sterke en snelle verbindingen leveren aan consumenten, en dat die dat zeer waarderen. “Tegelijkertijd vragen de Europese beleidsmakers bedrijven om hun internetdiensten te vertragen voor alle Europeanen, wat duidelijk onnodig is en schadelijk voor alle consumenten die vertrouwen op snelle internetverbindingen voor hun werk en hun privé bestaan”, aldus Bertoletti die ook lid is van een rechtse denktank die vóór vrije marktwerking is. De forse financiering voor het Consumer Choice Center zou ook vanuit rechtse hoek komen.

Adjunct-directeur Yaël Ossowski van het Consumer Choice Center wijst in het ook online gepubliceerde persbericht nu Europese netneutraliteit aan als de boosdoener. “Dit scenario in Europa is exact de reden waarom de Verenigde Staten in 2018 netneutraliteitsregulering heeft herroepen.” Hij spreekt van ‘beleefde dwang’ die overheidsinstanties uitoefenen op digitale bedrijven om streamingdiensten van lagere kwaliteit te leveren.

‘Verkeer overlaten aan telcombedrijven’

“Dat is niet alleen slecht publiek beleid, maar het toont ook aan waarom breedbandproviders en niet overheidsregelgevers het beste gepositioneerd zijn om ons online-verkeer te dirigeren, of dat nu in normale tijden is of in tijden van crisis.” Ossowski uit de hoop dat dit mensen tot nadenken zet wat betreft steun voor verdere overheidsregulering van het internet en digitale diensten.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

COVID-19 and craft beer: Normally only 12 states allow delivery of all alcohol. Why is that?

COVID-19 has exposed many holes in America’s state alcohol laws. Maryland just suspended its shortsighted craft beer carryout purchase limits because it only legally allowed one case per customer. The likes of Colorado, California and even Texas are allowing bars and restaurants now to sell alcohol to-go, which is not normally legal, and now the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is allowing distilled spirits permittees to produce hand sanitizer. Let freedom ring.

But without the current COVID-19 crisis this would normally not happen. Do you know how many states normally allow alcohol delivery legally? According to Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), in a recent press release:

“Consumers can order thousands of household products and food from the internet, but prohibitions on shipping alcohol remain on the books. Instead of emergency laws allowing home delivery of alcohol for a short period of time, states should immediately move to make these laws permanent to increase consumer choice for every American. At present, 12 states allow for some method of delivery of all alcohol, and 31 states allow wine and beer to be purchased and shipped to consumers’ homes. Utah, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Rhode Island, and Deleware currently bar alcohol deliveries to personal residences.

“Allowing for alcohol delivery will help consumers during the Covid-19 outbreak in the short term, but will also help boost economic activity and increase competition and options for consumers in the long term,” said Ossowski. “There are dozens of innovative apps and online services like Drizly and Thirstie that are beginning to offer alcohol delivery in real-time, but the legal status is uncertain.”

States should allow alcohol delivery and to-go purchases beyond this crisis

If you’re reading this, you’re probably sitting at home right now — just like millions of other Americans in the face of COVID-19. State alcohol restrictions are being temporarily lifted via emergency declarations issued by state legislators to help support restaurants and small businesses that will not normally be allowed to deliver alcohol to people’s homes or sell them to-go. Feels like now is a good time to make that permanent.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

When we’re back to normal: Free up spirits sales

Prince Edward Island made an international stir on Thursday by closing its liquor and cannabis stores on the grounds they were not providing essential services and therefore should be shuttered in the face of the pandemic. That may well have been the right decision. But it likely caused millions of people to reflect that, while binge-viewing their favourite streaming service or relaxing after a day of Monopoly with the kids, it would be more than nice to relax with a glass of their favourite beverage or ingestive. No one favours substance abuse. But responsible enjoyment of their relaxant of choice is something adults should be free to choose to do.

Except that in many places in Canada, governments have not made that choice very easy. Ontario historically has been such a place. But in the 2018 provincial election now-Premier Doug Ford made a commitment to expand retail access and consumer choice for the 11.6 million Ontarians who consume alcohol. So far, Ford’s main push has been to expand retail sales by allowing alcohol to be sold at convenience stores. When his government announced this change in May 2019, most long-suffering Ontario alcohol consumers rejoiced. Unfortunately, prospects for their liberation soon dimmed because of a legal battle with The Beer Store. For obvious reasons, the whole question of market structures for alcohol sales is on the far back burner. But eventually this political struggle will resume. Here’s how spirits could help break the logjam.

As a foreign-owned corporate entity with a near-monopoly on the sale of beer, The Beer Store is a powerful force in the province. After Ford’s announcement, it threatened the government with a $1-billion lawsuit for breach of contract if the “Master Framework Agreement” was terminated. That agreement prohibits Ontario from allowing increased beer retail beyond 450 approved grocery stores until after 2025.

Although pro-consumer organizations have urged the government to call The Beer Store’s bluff, arguing that its legal position is weaker than its PR suggests, the premier seems unwilling to proceed without first negotiating with The Beer Store. That’s a decidedly un-populist win for corporatism at the expense of Ontario consumers.

Yet the Ford government isn’t entirely handcuffed by the agreement Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals signed onto in 2015. If Ford wants to show his commitment to increasing consumer access in Ontario, but without ripping up the Master Framework Agreement, he should simply expand product variety at the 450 approved grocery stores provincewide. With the stroke of a pen, the province could allow approved grocery stores to sell spirits alongside the beer and wine they already sell. Nothing in the agreement prohibits this, and it would make an immediate impact for Ontario consumers.

Such a move would clearly demonstrate the Ford government’s commitment to greater choice for alcohol consumers and would let The Beer Store know the province is serious about liberalizing markets for alcohol.

Allowing spirits to be sold in grocery stores would also create a fairer marketplace for consumers, retailers and producers. As it currently stands, spirits can’t be sold in grocery stores. This obviously disadvantages both the consumers who prefer spirits, and the stores that would willingly sell these products. It also seriously disadvantages local Ontario distillers, as their products are prohibited from being sold alongside beer and wine. Frankly, it is silly that foreign-made wine and beer can be sold at grocery stores, but Ontario-made spirits, made with Ontario grains, can’t be.

Beyond expanding consumer choice and market equity, giving spirits the green light would help prepare the province for a full-scale rollout once convenience stores are brought into the retail market. Letting grocery stores sell spirits would pave the way for convenience stores to do the same, and that would be a significant boon to consumers who at the moment can only choose between a government monopoly or a government-protected corporate one.

For the moment, Doug Ford’s hands may be tied by past agreements and negotiations with The Beer Store. Luckily for lovers of spirits, there is an easy policy change that could expand access while avoiding a costly legal battle. For the sake of everyone who enjoys a cold drink in Ontario, let’s hope Ford follows through and values consumers over corporatism.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Apakah Perlindungan Hak Kekayaan Intelektual di Bidang Medis Menguntungkan Konsumen?

Penulis Haikal Kurniawan – Usia harapan hidup dunia kian naik dari tahun ke tahun. Pada tahun 2020, diprediksi ada lebih banyak penduduk dunia yang berusia di atas 64 tahun daripada anak-anak di bawah usia 5 tahun (Roeder, 2019). Hal ini tentu merupakan suatu capaian yang mengagumkan, dan sangat perlu untuk diapresiasi.

Salah satu hal yang memainkan peran besar atas hal tersebut adalah inovasi dan perkembangan sains dan teknologi di bidang medis. Berbagai kemajuan di bidang tersebut telah membantu umat manusia untuk memiliki usia jauh lebih panjang daripada leluhur mereka yang hidup di masa lalu.

Konsumen tentu merupakan pihak yang paling diuntungkan dari perkembangan tersebut. Melalui berbagai inovasi, konsumen diberikan berbagai macam pilihan untuk memilih obat-obatan medis yang lebih beragam dan ampuh untuk mengatasi berbagai penyakit.

Lantas, apakah perlindungan Hak Kekayaan Intelektual memiliki kaitan erat perkembangan sains dan teknologi tersebut?

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Hak Kekayaan Intelektual, atau HAKI, merupakan salah satu hak yang diakui secara global oleh dunia internasional. Deklarasi Universal Hak Asasi Manusia (DUHAM), Pasal 27 UDHR, menyatakan dengan eksplisit bahwa “Setiap manusia memiliki hak untuk mendapatkan perlindungan, baik secara moral, maupun kepentingan material, yang dihasilkan dari hasil karya saintifik, literatur, maupun seni yang dibuatnya.”

Perlindungan HAKI merupakan salah satu instrumen yang dibuat untuk melindungi para inovator dan seniman atas hasil jerih payah mereka. Tanpa adanya perlindungan terhadap HAKI, tentu mustahil para inovator dan seniman yang sudah bekerja keras membuat karya tertentu untuk menikmati hasil kreatifitas yang mereka buat. Orang-orang lain, yang tidak melakukan apa-apa, akan dengan mudah mengkopi dan membajak hasil karya tersebut untuk keuntungan mereka sendiri.

Hal yang sama juga berlaku untuk inovasi di bidang teknologi kedokteran, pangan, dan kesehatan. Satu hal yang memiliki peran sangat besar untuk mendorong perkembangan tersebut adalah para investor yang menginvestasikan dana mereka untuk riset dan penelitian.

Jumlah dana yang diinvestasikan tersebut tidaklah kecil. Profesor dari Fakultas Kesehatan Universitas Tufts, Joseph Dimasi, dalam jurnalnya yang berjudul “Innovation in the pharmaceutical industry: New estimates of R&D costs” memberi estimasi, agar sebuah obat bisa dipakai oleh pasien dari nol, dibutuhkan waktu riset selama 12,5 tahun dan dana sebesar 2,8 milyar Dollar Amerika, atau lebih dari 35 triliun rupiah (DiMasi, 2016).

Dana tersebut tentu bukan jumlah yang sedikit. Tanpa adanya perlindungan terhadap HAKI, tentu insentif para investor untuk menginvestasikan uang yang mereka miliki menjadi berkurang, dan bahkan hilang. Hal tersebut tentu akan sangat merugikan banyak pihak, terutama konsumen yang membutuhkan obat-obatan medis terbaru, karena riset dan penelitian menjadi terhambat.

Akan tetapi, bukankah HAKI di bidang medis akan mendorong perilaku rakus yang dilakukan oleh berbagai perusahaan farmasi demi keuntungan sebesar-besarnya?

Memang, kerakusan perusahaan farmasi demi meraih keuntungan sebesar-besarnya merupakan karikatur yang kerap digambarkan oleh para aktivis dan para politisi yang memiliki haluan kiri.

Namun, kenyataannya tidaklah demikian. Perusahaan farmasi asal Britania Raya GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) misalnya, memberlakukan kebijakan pemotongan harga obat yang mereka jual di negara-negara berkembang sebesar 25% dari dengan harga di negara-negara maju. Selain itu, perusahaan farmasi asal Swiss, Novartis, sejak tahun 2011, telah mendistribusikan lebih dari 850 juta obat anti malaria ke lebih dari 60 negara dengan jumlah penderita malaria tertinggi, tanpa mengambil profit sama sekali (Medicine for Malaria Venture, 2019).

Lantas, bila demikian, bagaimana kita dapat mengatasi biaya obat-obatan medis yang tinggi?

Cara untuk mengatasi hal tersebut bukanlah dengan menghapus HAKI, karena hal tersebut akan menghilangkan insentif yang sangat dibutuhkan untuk mendorong kemajuan di bidang medis. Solusi yang paling efisien untuk menurunkan harga obat-obatan agar terjangkau adalah menghapuskan berbagai kebijakan pemerintah yang mendorong kenaikan harga tersebut, diantaranya adalah tarif impor dan izin birokrasi yang rumit.

Tarif impor untuk produk obat-obatan medis tentu akan mendorong kenaikan harga barang tersebut di pasar, dimana yang paling dirugikan adalah masyarakat kelas menengah ke bawah. Nepal misalnya, memberlakukan kebijakan tarif impor untuk produk medis sebesar 14,7%. Tarif impor untuk obat-obatan medis di Indonesia sendiri adalah 4,3% (IDN Times, 2019).

Izin yang rumit dan berbelit juga merupakan hal yang tentu sangat menghambat perkembangan dan membuat biaya obat menjadi meningkat. Berdasarkan laporan Tempo misalnya, Menteri Kesehatan, Terawan Agus Purwanto, menyatakan bahwa izin peredaran obat baru di Indonesia bisa memakan waktu hingga berbulan-bulan, ia berjanji akan mengatasi persoalan tersebut (Tempo, 2020).

HAKI di bidang medis merupakan hal yang patut untuk dijaga demi mendorong perkembangan sains dan teknologi di bidang medis, yang tentunya akan membawa manfaat besar bagi umat manusia. Pemerintah dalam hal ini seharusnya menjadi pihak yang menjaga hak tersebut, bukan menjadi aktor yang mempersulit inovasi melalui berbagai regulasi ketat yang nantinya akan merugikan masyarakat.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Побороти коронавірус з допомогою редагування генів: що це таке і як працює

Кордони закриваються, літаки скасовують рейси, а заводи призупиняють діяльність. Вчені та лікарі працюють над тестами, методами лікування та вакцинами, щоб незабаром надати медичну відповідь. Коронавірус може бути одним з найбільших випробувань, з якими людство стикалися за останні десятиліття, але він не буде останньою загрозою яку нам потрібно перемогти. Саме тому настав час звернути увагу на напрацювання біонауки та дозволити застосування методів генетичної зміни.

Для звичайної людини весь хайп навколо технологічного прогресу, мутагенезу та генної інженерії важко осмислити. Мені особисто знадобилось багато читати, щоб почати розуміти, які існують різні методи, і як вони можуть масово покращити нашу якість життя.

Давайте спочатку розглянемо чотири найпоширеніші способи зміни генів рослин чи тварин:

Доктор Ікс – Мутації самі по собі просто трапляються регулярно в природі. Саме таким чином деякі амінокислоти призвели до виникнення людини мільярд років пізніше. Біологічна еволюція може відбутися лише завдяки мутаціям. Мутації в природі відбуваються випадковим чином або викликані екзогенними факторами, такими як радіація (наприклад, сонце). Для читачів коміксів, люди-X мають мутації які у більшості випадків сталися випадково.

Халк – Мутація через опромінення (мутагени): Один з найпоширеніших способів маніпулювання насінням – це піддавати їх радіації та сподіватися на виникнення позитивних мутацій (наприклад, більшу стійкість до шкідників). Цей метод є дуже поширеним з 50-х років минулого століття, однак є дуже неточним підходом, який має на меті зробити посіви більш стійкими або приємними. Позитивний результат вимагає тисяч спроб. Цей метод широко застосовується та законний майже в кожній країні. У світі коміксів Халк – хороший приклад мутацій, викликаних радіацією.

Людина-павук – генетично модифіковані організми (трансгенні ГМО): процедура створення ГМО заснована на вставленні генів одного виду в гени іншого. У більшості випадків посіви ГМО ін’єктуються білком іншої рослини або бактеріями, що змушує урожай швидше рости або бути більш стійким до певних захворювань. Інші приклади можна побачити при схрещуванні лосося з рибою тилапії, завдяки чому лосось росте вдвічі швидше. Людина-павук укушена павуком раптом яка змогла піднятися на хмарочоси завдяки своїй посиленій павуко-людській ДНК (трансгенній) – приклад з коміксу.

GATTACA / Гнів Хана – редагування генів (ножиці): останній і найточніший спосіб зміни генів організму – так зване редагування генів. На відміну від традиційних ГМО, гени не імплантуються з іншого організму, а змінюються всередині організму завдяки точному методу або дезактивації певних генів, або їх додаванню.

Це можна зробити навіть у дорослих людей, які живуть, що є благом для всіх, хто страждає генетичними порушеннями. Ми здатні «відновити» гени в живих організмах. Редагування генів також в тисячі разів точніше, ніж просто бомбардування насіння радіацією. Деякі застосовані приклади дезактивації гена, відповідального за вироблення глютену в пшениці: Результат – пшениця без глютену. Існує кілька методів, які цього досягають. 

Однією з найпопулярніших в наші дні є так званий CRISPR Cas-9. Ці “ножниці” є зазвичай перепрограмованими бактеріями, які передають нову інформацію про ген або деактивують неіснуючі або небажані гени. Багато науково-фантастичних романів і фільмів показують майбутнє, в якому ми можемо деактивувати генетичні дефекти і вилікувати людину від страшних захворювань. Деякі приклади історій, в яких використовувались подібні до CRISPR методи, – це фільми, такі як GATTACA, Зоряний шлях: Гнів Хана, або серіал Expanse, в якому редагування генів відіграє вирішальну роль у вирощуванні сільськогосподарських культур у космосі.

Яке відношення це має до коронавірусу?

Біологи-синтетики почали використовувати CRISPR для синтетичного створення частин коронавірусу, намагаючись запустити вакцину проти цього захворювання легенів і зможуть дуже швидко його масово виробляти. У поєднанні з комп’ютерним моделюванням та штучним інтелектом найкраща конструкція такої вакцини розраховується на комп’ютері та потім синтетично створюється. Це прискорює розробку вакцини і скорочує її з роками до лише місяців. Регуляторні органи показали, що в кризові періоди вони також можуть швидко затвердити нові процедури тестування та вакцинації, які зазвичай потребують років назад та назад з такими агенціями, як Міністерство Охорони Здоров’я?

Серед іншого, CRISPR дозволяє “шукати” конкретні гени, також гени вірусу. Завдяки чому стало можливим створення створити швидких та простих процедур тестування пацієнтів на коронавірус.

Зрештою, редагування генів може дати нам можливість підвищити імунітет людства, змінивши наші гени та зробивши нас більш стійкими до вірусів та бактерій.

Коронaвірус – це не остання криза

Хоча коронавірус є своєрідним екзаменом для сучасного суспільства, ми також повинні усвідомлювати, що він не буде останнім збудником, який може вбити мільйони. Якщо нам не пощастить, корона може швидко мутувати і з ним стане важче боротися. Наступні небезпечні віруси, грибки чи бактерії, ймовірно, не за горами. Отже, нам потрібно підтримувати новітні винаходи біотехнології, а не блокувати генетичні дослідження та доступ до їх результатів.

Наразі чимало тяганини і навіть прямо заборони стоять між інноваціями з величезним потенціалом, такими як CRISPR та пацієнтами по всьому світу. Нам потрібно переосмислити нашу неприязнь до генної інженерії та прийняти її. Постійна боротьбa з новоявними хворобами потребує сучасних відповідей.

Originally published here.


Merci la science! Un guide d’auto-assistance pour le coronavirus

Comment répondre à nos besoins en période de confinement ? Voici un guide des innovations qui nous permettent de passer ce désagréable moment.

Les deux dernières semaines ont probablement été les moments les plus étranges de la plupart de nos vies. Peu d’entre nous ont connu une restriction aussi massive de leurs voyages et de leur vie sociale avant l’apparition du coronavirus. Même en tant que passionné d’aviation et grand voyageur, je n’ai même pas vu l’immobilisation au sol de flottes entières d’avions au lendemain du 11 septembre 2001.

Les réunions d’affaires, conférences ou événements sportifs semblent être suspendus pendant au moins les six à huit semaines à venir. Ce n’est probablement qu’une question de temps avant que la plupart des pays ne ferme les salles de sport et les pubs.

Ce sera un défi non seulement pour l’économie, mais aussi pour notre vie sociale. Il sera important de garder le moral et la santé mentale. Il s’avère que des conversations vidéo régulières, mais très informelles avec des amis et des collègues, autour d’un verre, peuvent beaucoup aider à soulager l’anxiété accumulée par l’hystérie médiatique et le sentiment de ne pas être maître de la situation, impuissant.

Alors que nous essayons tous de nous adapter à une nouvelle réalité pour les 6 à 10 prochaines semaines, il y a aussi des raisons pour lesquelles je suis très heureux que cette crise survienne en 2020 et non en 2000. Beaucoup d’innovations se sont produites dans ce nouveau millénaire dont nous devrions être extrêmement reconnaissants.

Avant tout, nous devrions bien sûr être reconnaissants envers toutes les infirmières et tous les médecins qui ont aidé les patients en première ligne de l’épidémie. Ce seront des mois difficiles pour tous les professionnels de la santé et ils devraient recevoir tout le soutien nécessaire.

Et avant de nous plonger dans l’innovation médicale et la recherche d’un vaccin, regardons qui d’autre nous aide à prendre de la distance sociale, à nous isoler et à aplatir la courbe.

BESOIN DE TRAVAILLER ?

Les outils de travail à distance tels que Zoom, Asana ou les outils de Google ont déjà révolutionné le monde du travail. La plupart des réunions peuvent être converties en appel vidéo.

Ainsi, l’économie du savoir ou les emplois de défense des droits, comme ceux de mon organisation, peuvent au moins continuer à être productifs. Mais il est évident qu’il y a aussi la vie au-delà du travail et qu’il faut s’en occuper, y compris la garde des enfants.

BESOIN DE NOURRITURE ?

Grâce à des services de livraison de produits alimentaires tels qu’AmazonFresh et Ocado, j’ai pu constituer une bonne quantité de réserves de conserves, de produits secs et de produits pour la salle de bains, sans même avoir à me battre pour les derniers produits dans certains supermarchés presque vides. Au cours des prochaines semaines, nous aurons des livraisons régulières de produits frais, vu que je ne me contenterai pas de pâtes tant que corona ne sera pas vaincu. 

Les services de livraison de nourriture permettent de travailler encore plus facilement à domicile, tout en créant de la valeur, et d’être nourri par Papa John’s, Nando’s ou notre restaurant indien local. Domino’s Pizza est allé encore plus loin et vient de m’envoyer un courriel annonçant « Contact Free Delivery » au Royaume-Uni et en Irlande (j’habite à Londres) :

« En introduisant la livraison sans contact, nous pensons que nous donnerons à nos clients la tranquillité d’esprit lorsqu’ils commandent un Domino’s, tout en protégeant nos livreurs.

Vous pouvez sélectionner une livraison sans contact lors du passage de votre commande sur notre application ou notre site web. Votre chauffeur vous appellera à son arrivée pour convenir de l’endroit où vous souhaitez que votre nourriture soit laissée. Une fois la commande passée à l’endroit convenu, le chauffeur se tiendra à au moins deux mètres de vous pendant que vous irez chercher votre commande. Pour que le service soit vraiment sans contact, toutes les commandes de livraison sans contact doivent être prépayées en ligne ou par téléphone ».

Après m’être occupé de toute la pizza et du papier toilette dont j’ai besoin dans un avenir proche, il est maintenant temps d’examiner quels seront les besoins en matière de divertissement.

BESOIN DE DIVERTISSEMENT ?

Netflix et Amazon arrivent directement dans ma vie et, comme l’a fait remarquer ma collègue Maria, « c’est un fléau avec le WiFi ». Il n’est donc pas nécessaire d’aller dans le magasin de location de vidéos qui a fermé ses portes, mais vous pouvez diffuser en continu toutes les saisons de Buffy, et si cela dure plus longtemps que prévu, même Angel, directement chez vous.

Ma salle de sport vient de m’envoyer un e-mail m’informant qu’ils avaient un cas de COVID-19 et qu’ils sont actuellement fermés pour un nettoyage en profondeur. C’est bien que Kelli et Daniel de Fitness Blender aient plus de 500 vidéos d’entraînement gratuites sur YouTube. Sortez vos tapis de yoga !

Mais Buffy et HIIT ne sont pas disponibles en quantité suffisante pour une journée. Heureusement, les jeux vidéo (auxquels je n’ai pas prêté attention depuis longtemps) sont maintenant surtout diffusés en streaming ou téléchargés. Mes amis des médias sociaux m’ont recommandé Red Dead Redemption 2The Witcher 3 et Europa Universalis IV (probablement trop compliqué pour moi). Je pense donc que nous sommes tous prêts ici aussi !

BESOIN DE MÉDICAMENTS ?

Passons maintenant à l’une des plus grandes inventions de ces dernières décennies : les pharmacies en ligne ! Venant d’Allemagne et ayant travaillé dans le domaine de la politique de santé, je suis toujours perplexe quant à l’ampleur de la lutte contre les pharmacies en ligne et les ordonnances électroniques. En ces temps d’isolement et de distanciation sociale, ces deux mots sonnent comme de la musique à mes oreilles. 

J’ai pu commander et stocker toutes sortes de médicaments délivrés uniquement sur ordonnance, tels que des médicaments contre l’asthme, des inhibiteurs de la pompe à protons et des antibiotiques, sans même quitter mon appartement ; et tout cela LÉGALEMENT (avertissement : je souffre d’asthme) ! Il vous suffit de consulter un médecin en ligne ou de répondre à un quiz et de recevoir une ordonnance électronique.

C’est un soulagement énorme pour le système de santé, déjà mis à rude épreuve, car les patients n’inondent pas les cliniques juste pour demander des ordonnances et les pharmaciens peuvent se concentrer sur la production d’un plus grand nombre de désinfectants.

RÉJOUISSONS-NOUS DE CES INNOVATIONS

La plupart de ces services et entreprises mentionnés ci-dessus n’existaient même pas il y a vingt ans. Grâce à l’innovation et à la concurrence, les entrepreneurs ont mis au point ces nouvelles façons de servir les clients. C’est étonnant et, même si ce n’était peut-être qu’un simple gadget il y a quelques semaines, tout, de la vidéoconférence aux prescriptions électroniques, rend cette crise beaucoup plus gérable. Nous devrions nous en réjouir !

Il est évident qu’il existe des groupes vulnérables et que de nombreuses personnes souffriront lourdement du virus. C’est pourquoi nous avons besoin de plus d’innovation. Il y a déjà une course au premier vaccin et d’autres sociétés pharmaceutiques travaillent à la réorientation des antiviraux utilisés par exemple pour lutter contre le virus Ebola.

Certaines études suggèrent que certains médicaments contre le paludisme pourraient être utiles pour renforcer le système immunitaire des patients gravement malades atteints de coronaropathie. Il s’agit souvent de médicaments récemment découverts dont le développement nécessite beaucoup de temps et de capitaux. 

Nous devrions être reconnaissants pour l’innovation en médecine et admettre que ces percées ne sont possibles que grâce à des chercheurs enthousiastes et à l’appétit d’innovation risqué du secteur privé.

C’est pourquoi, à l’Agence pour le choix du consommateur (Consumer Choice Center), nous continuons à nous battre (depuis nos ordinateurs portables) pour le choix, l’innovation et l’élaboration de politiques pro-science. Nous en tirerons profit lors de la prochaine crise (un robot de garde d’enfants inclus) !

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Group calls on provinces to ‘immediately remove barriers’ to same-day weed delivery

Delivery would make life easier on Canadians during coronavirus outbreak while helping stave off black market.

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) wants the rest of Canada’s provinces to join Saskatchewan and Manitoba in allowing the same-day delivery of cannabis.

Self-described champions of lifestyle freedom and innovation, the group noted that weed should not be excluded from the extensive list of everyday items consumers can have brought to their front door, especially in the time of COVID-19.

“Consumers can order household products, food and alcohol for same-day delivery,” said David Clement, North American affairs manager for the CCC. “It is silly to prohibit same-day cannabis delivery from licensed retailers,” Clement said.

“With the exception of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, cannabis consumers are left waiting days for Canada Post to deliver online orders. Provincial governments should immediately remove the legal barriers for same-day delivery from licensed retailers.”

After legalization, Saskatchewan and Manitoba quickly emerged as testing grounds for cannabis delivery services, thanks to their relatively liberal retail regimes, which allow private actors to operate online stores.

The result of those policies — which differ from rules in Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta, where online cannabis stores are controlled by the province — has been a flurry of cannabis start-ups, including Super Anytime Inc., Pineapple Express Delivery Inc. and Prairie Records that offer same-day delivery to recreational cannabis consumers.

The Ontario Cannabis Store has been slowly testing same-day delivery in the province, but it is currently only available to select postal codes in the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton, Guelph and Waterloo.

But the time has come to integrate the service countrywide, Clement argued. “Allowing for same-day delivery will help cannabis consumers during the COVID-19 outbreak, but it will also help combat the black market in the long run,” he said.

“There are a variety of illegal online options for same-day delivery. Allowing for licensed retailers to compete will make the legal market more attractive, and could help consumers switch from the black market to the legal market,” he added.

The consumer advocacy group has been critical of government regulation of cannabis in the past, slamming package regulations as being “heavy-handed” and arguing that Canadian consumers have paid the price for the government’s inability to understand the drug.

Originally published here.

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